AI technology is helping customer experience leaders understand what customers really want and see what processes and sales behaviours lead to revenue.
Traditionally, instinct and experience have been considered the most important factors in closing a sale or converting a customer. Customer experience (CX) leaders used to rely solely on focus groups, sentiment analysis, customer and stakeholder interviews to decide what customers wanted and where improvements should be made.
Success - knowing what to say and what to offer - was based on incomplete insight, measured in anecdotes. However, this has changed with the advent of AI in CX. Communications mining and conversational intelligence are providing complete visibility into all customer interactions - at speed, at scale, and omnichannel. Sales conversations and customer feedback on any channel can now be mined and analysed to their full potential.
By applying communications mining to their customer conversations, CX leaders have been able to prove with data what behaviours and strategies lead to success. These are the top five lessons they’ve learnt to win more customers, close more deals and generate higher revenues for the business:
1. Manage expectations to increase sales by 40%
More than any other sales behaviour, managing customer expectations effectively is the most likely to complete a sale or conversion. It has been found that agents who are honest with customers, avoid exaggeration and update regularly on obstacles close 40% more deals than those who don’t.
Customers respond poorly to sudden, unexpected changes in their service and to products that don’t deliver what they feel was promised. It is far better to establish what customers can expect clearly and without ambiguity - and to do so from the outset.
Consistency, reliability and trustworthiness have never been more important in today’s marketplace. Three-quarters of customers desire a consistent experience, regardless of context or how they engage. It’s crucial that service and sales agents are properly trained to manage expectations at all stages of the customer journey.
2. Understand customer needs and priorities
It won’t be a surprise for any CX practitioner to know that understanding customer needs and priorities increases the chance of conversion by 20%. Instead, the challenge has always been achieving this level of insight.
When you know exactly what your customers want, what they like and dislike about your customer experience, it becomes far easier to tailor your CX for them. This information is critical to good product development, service updates and a personalised customer experience. But where do you find it?
Customers are constantly telling brands what they want, but this is done across many disparate channels - emails, calls, chats, social media etc. - none of which generate data we can easily analyse. Traditional methods like surveys and sentiment analysis struggle to scale across different channels. They can only ever extract a random, incomplete sample of customer opinion.
It’s only through the application of AI that this is starting to change. AI-enabled Communications Mining allows CX leaders to analyse and action every customer message and conversation. Customer needs and priorities no longer need to be viewed in isolation - they can be tracked and monitored across an entire customer base. The most requested and valuable CX changes can be rapidly identified and actioned.
3. Make it personal to increase conversions by 10%
CX leaders shouldn’t ignore the power of the personal. Establishing a personal connection with a customer increases the chance of conversion by 10%. A strong majority (63%) of consumers expect businesses to know their unique needs and expectations, while 76% of B2B buyers expect the same.
Of course, maintaining this personal connection across the customer journey requires a joined-up customer experience. Businesses that have successfully operationalised CX have the advantage here. CX teams need easy access to customer data from across the business - from marketing to sales and operations. This guarantees the customer a personalised and consistent brand experience, regardless of who they’re talking to at the time.
4. Don’t push promotions too early
Countless brands use discounts, time-limited offers and promotions to drive acquisition and snag customers’ attention. However, doing so too early can be counterproductive in the long term.
Sharing offers too early decreases conversion by 15%. Furthermore, introducing financing unprompted at the start of a customer interaction decreases the chances of conversion by as much as 20%.
Promotions can drive a short-term spike in purchases from money-conscious consumers, but they don’t reward you with loyal, repeat customers. Dangling a discount in front of a customer before you have learnt what matters to them - before they are even educated about your product - devalues your proposition. Buyers start thinking about costs and impacts before they consider the advantages of your product.
There will always be a cheaper alternative for your customers. Instead, invest in reducing customer effort and analysing customer needs and priorities to provide a better customer experience. Use promotions tactically to reward repeat customers and win back the attention of those who have dropped out of the customer journey.
5. Share bad news ASAP
Any sale or customer order can be derailed, impacting the customer journey. However, by responding appropriately to the disruption a business can turn even a bad experience into a good one - repairing the customer relationship for the future.
That’s why it’s crucial to share bad news with customers early. Giving them notice of an obstacle or delay provides them with time to prepare or adapt, and once again helps manage their expectations. This proactive behaviour has been shown to have a 10% net positive impact on sales. Indeed, 78% of consumers say they would do business with a company even after a mistake, so long as it provides a high-quality, proactive service.
A source of truth for customer experience improvement
Experienced CX and service practitioners may not be surprised that managing expectations and knowing customer priorities has a positive impact on sales. The difference now is that the technology exists to finally back up these truisms with hard data. With communications mining, businesses have the visibility to see how well they’re measuring up to these behaviours.
What’s more, the longer communications mining is exposed to a unique business context the more granular and surprising its insights become. CX leaders have a complete, detailed overview of what their customers really want, what improvements should be made, and what processes and behaviours lead to more customers and greater revenue.